The best of British cured, fermented, finely sliced, expertly prepared meats has been put to the test and the best rewarded in the increasingly influential British Charcuterie Awards. Created in 2017 and organised by food events maven Henrietta Green, the awards seek to reward and educate both maker and consumer. Both sides of the plate gain from more attention being paid to the use of higher quality meats and ingredients through creating a vibrant community and enhancing skill levels of butchers and chefs making the finished products.
Results of The British Charcuterie Live Awards 2020/21 have been released with east Suffolk-based Dingley Dell Cured named Star Award Champion of Champions Producer as the single best performing producer over a minimum of three classes for their Albion Coppa-style Iceni, a Felino style salami; Essus, a cacciatore-style hunter’s salami, and smoked dry cured back bacon products.
“To be recognised for our products will undoubtedly help us to raise awareness of what we are doing on a national level and hopefully to bring us new business,” says Dingley Dell’s co-owner Mark Hayward.
Henrietta said: “In spite of the challenges British producers are undergoing as a result of the pandemic, over 100 producers entered more than 300 products into the nine classes, and our judges were struck by the exceptional quality and range of the entries”.
In selecting Dingley Dell Cured for the biggest prize of the Awards, the judges said that their Icini – Felino style sausage was, ‘like eating a great Italian salumi’.
“It’s so encouraging to see more and more producers are starting to make both British- and Continental- style charcuterie. It’s becoming a truly vibrant sector of British food production,” added Green.
British charcuterie makers are increasingly inventive and mostly not restricted by history, tradition or regional specialities but inspired to use heritage and native breeds, and plenty of game including venison and wild boar.
Of Dingley Dell’s Smoked Dry Cured Back Bacon, the judgement was: “Good-looking rashers with a very enticing caramel coloured edge from the smoking. Aroma is really good, offering up the smoke without overpowering. It is nice to get the pork flavour through which is really well balanced with the smoke – sweet and woody notes on the palate. The salt stays in the background, in a good way.”
Good looking rashers
Yorkshire Dales-based Wildman Charcuterie were recognised as makers of The Champion of Champions Product for their Longhorn Bresaola which the judges rewarding its, “lovely dark colour (and) uniformed slices, great aroma which was matched by the taste – great choice of species bringing the beef taste forward.”
Charcuterie appreciation across Britain is also increasing with home grown expertise and the realisation that great products are once again being made locally. Whether it’s dry curing (where salt and flavourings are rubbed dry into the meat) or brine curing (meat is immersed in a highly flavoured brine), the British makers will experiment.
As judge James Robinson of Spanish food specialists Brindisa noted, it feels that over the past few years British charcuterie has seen makers push themselves harder, in part stimulated in no small part by British Charcuterie Live. “It’s an exciting time for British charcuterie producers right now as they strive to achieve the same levels of quality as experienced continental cured meat producers,” he says.
The judging crew
Judging for British Charcuterie Live Awards is carried out blind by small teams of experts and each product assessed for a number of factors including taste, mouth feel, appearance and presentation.
Led by new head judge Keith Fisher, chief executive of the Institute of Meat, the judges are charcuterie experts drawn from the meat, hospitality and retail sectors – makers, buyers, consultants, restaurateurs, chefs, plus top food writers, including chefs Adam Handling, Thom Eagle and Henry Harris; and buyers Bernadette Lalonde from Harrods, Paul Patterson from the Charcuterie Box, and Michaela Pagano from the Fine Cheese Company. A group of restaurateur judges included Roberto Costa from Marcellaio; James Allcock from the Pig & Whistle and Dan Brod from Beckford Bottle Shop.
BRITISH CHARCUTERIE AWARD WINNERS 2020/ 21
|Best in Class or Star Awards||Product Name||Company|
|Champion of Champions Producer||Dingley Dell Cured|
|Champion of Champions Product||Longhorn Bresaola||Wildman Charcuterie|
|Best in Class – class 1|
Cured, Air-Dried & Ready-to-Eat Whole Muscle Products
|Longhorn Bresaola||Wildman Charcuterie|
|Best in Class – class 2|
Cured & Cooked Whole Muscle Products
|Cooked ox tongue||A E Chambers Ltd|
|Best in Class – class 3|
Cured, Fermented & Air Dried Ready-to-Eat Sausage Products
|Iceni – Felino style British Salami||Dingley Dell Cured|
|Best in Class – class 4 Cured & Cooked Sausage Products||Nose to Tail Terrine||North by Sudouest Charcuterie Ltd|
|Best in Class – class 5|
Soft & Spreadable Products
|Traditional Pork Rillette||Cornish Charcuterie|
|Best in Class – class 6 Cured Bacon||Oak smoked bacon chop||Uptons of Bassett|
|Best in Class – class 7 British Regional Products||Faggots||Wenlock Edge Farm|
|Best in Class – class 8 “House Made” Products||Smoked Pork Collar with mixed peppercorns||KUBARN Ltd|
|Best in Class class 9|
British Snacking Charcuterie
|Ke Nako “Pain in the Hole” Biltong||Ke Nako Biltong|
|Best Black Pudding||Charles Macleod Stornoway Black Pudding||Charles Macleod Ltd|
|Best Game Product||Green Pepper Venison Salami||Great Glen Charcuterie|
|Best New Product||Pork & Fennel Salami||Rare & Pasture|
|Best Smoked Product||Oak Smoked Streaky Bacon||Wenlock Edge Farm|
|Best Traditional or Heritage Product||Spiced Loin||SaltPig Curing Company|